With our Shortage of Skilled Workers, Career and Technical Education is Ready to be Taken Seriously

This story is part of Map to the Middle Class, a Hechinger Report series that explores how schools can prepare young people for the good middle-class jobs of the future.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — It was tough to nail down a favorite: maybe the chicken cordon bleu with sweet potatoes. But the lasagna was also amazing, and it was hard to top the scalloped potatoes that came with the prime rib.

Delivered desk-side on Thursdays before last bell, still hot from the kitchen and packed takeout style in brown paper bags, the meals were a buzzy new collaboration between Manchester School of Technology (MST) business students and the school’s Culinary Arts program. Beyond providing a weeknight meal plus leftovers to the 30 teachers and administrators who bought $60 memberships to the plan, the effort was also born of urgent need.

Career and technical education (CTE) programs such as those offered at MST — which feature academically and professionally rigorous classes and send graduates off to postsecondary programs at high rates — may be uniquely positioned to prepare young adults for the future of work.

As traditional blue-collar industries decline across the country, the casualties of automation and offshoring, they are increasingly being replaced by skilled service jobs such as those in health care, information technology and finance, according to research by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. While good middle-class jobs are disappearing for people with only high-school diplomas, New Hampshire, with its workforce aging, is struggling to fill 17,000 jobs, many of them in skilled occupations.

And it’s only going to get worse. The state is losing its youth. Nearly 50 percent of New Hampshire’s college-going high school graduates are leaving the state. A significant factor is that college education in New Hampshire is the priciest in America. Those who leave seeking a more affordable education often do not return to the state to work, live and start families.

High-quality CTE, experts hope, will address many of these issues with retooled, up-to-date programs that help propel students to postsecondary education and, in the process, give them more in-state connections and prepare them not only for in-demand jobs but for the flexibility the future will require.

But career and technical education is in some ways still caught in the shadow of what experts call “grandpa’s vocational school.” Historically, such programs were limited to a handful of skilled trades that did not necessarily lead to well-paying jobs; students were separated into vocational and nonvocational categories early in their academic careers.

Like many career and technical schools, the Manchester School of Technology used to offer only a part-time program for juniors and seniors from nearby high schools, but MST gave itself a face-lift in 2012 when it launched its own full-time high school. Today, in the hope of getting young people excited about learning — and keeping them closer to home — the school is trying to cross-pollinate academic and technical instruction, which is how the chicken cordon bleu with sweet potatoes came about.

At MST, where students may study a wide range of sought-after careers, from game design and aeronautical engineering to HVAC and nursing, teachers and administrators are working overtime to innovate and prove the school’s worth, hoping to both increase and highlight the value of CTE in today’s job economy. Principal Karen Hannigan Machado travels annually to Washington to secure her school’s $650,000 allotment of Perkins funding (those funds are “just a drop in the bucket,” she said). Teachers and school counselors visit local middle schools to evangelize about MST’s college and career opportunities, and they organize open houses and special events to coax local businesses to provide internships for students.

To read the full story, visit PBS.com

HCWP Peer Exchange: Apprenticeship

The fourth Peer Exchange will take place on April 19, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 p.m. EST. The topic will focus on Apprenticeship and how to utilize this model to develop a skilled workforce. For decades, construction companies have valued apprenticeships for recruiting, developing, and retaining a skilled workforce. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job learning with related instruction in technical areas to produce qualified, highly-productive employees for construction jobs requiring precision and safety. The webinar will feature:

  • Two HCWP locations, the FHWA California Division and the Construction Association of Western Pennsylvania, will share how apprenticeship is aiding them in their ability to develop skilled workers in the construction sector
  • North America’s Building Trades Unions will provide an overview of apprenticeship, who one can connect with to start an apprenticeship program, and will share examples of innovative apprenticeship programs in the construction sector
  • Chicago Women in Trades, who received a Department of Labor National Equity contract to expand apprenticeship opportunities to women, people of color and other underrepresented populations, will offer ideas on how to market to, recruit and retain these groups in the skilled trades sector

To participate in the Peer Exchange on April 19, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 p.m. EST, please use the following information:

Web Conference Room: https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/oipd

Teleconference Phone Number: 877-402-9753 Passcode: 9763005

Please click this test link in advance of the Peer Exchange to ensure the software will work properly on your computer. If you’d like an overview of the Adobe Connect software, please visit the Adobe website. Please note that pre-registration is not required for this month’s Peer Exchange.

NETWC Spotlights

Check out the programs and people who have recently been highlighted by the Northeast Transportation Workforce Center!

   

More women leaders needed for Transportation Projects

Women leaders make a difference. Minority leaders make a difference. Small business leaders make a difference. Our transportation system touches everyone in our diverse population, so it’s critical to gain input, perspectives and talent from all parts of our community.

Better representation in the leadership ranks will help ensure major infrastructure projects are designed and built to meet the wide-ranging needs of our entire community. Inclusive leadership won’t happen by accident; luckily, there are people and companies working to make it a reality.

   

AutoCare Association Participates in Workforce Conference

Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, recently participated in the National Association of Workforce Boards’ “The Forum 2018” annual conference where he and other representatives from the nation’s largest employment sectors met to discuss solutions for finding and retaining qualified employees.

   

St. Johnsbury Academy Students Learn Trades Right On Campus

Unlike most programs in the state, Career and Technical Education at St. Johnsbury Academy is integrated into the larger academic school. As a result, 80 percent of the full student body takes at least one CTE course during their academic career, and two-thirds of the students who focus their time in CTE go on to secondary education in their trade field or employment in that field. In this program you’ll hear from five students and two teachers in the CTE program at the Academy. They are kids who love to “work with their hands” and “learn by doing,” hoping to graduate from high school with employable skills.

   

NJ Strives to Stay Ahead in Transportation, Logistics, and Distribution

New Jersey’s business and government leaders recognize the value in the state becoming a major center of distribution and logistics, so they are looking for its education system to help New Jersey remain a step ahead. Business leaders say they have plenty of jobs available in this sector and want colleges to evolve, so well-trained workers are available here in the Garden State well into the future.

   

Electrify Pennsylvania Transportation System

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection soon will begin recommending projects to receive funding from the state’s settlement allocation (nearly $120 million) to help right this wrong and offset the vehicles’ additional pollution. State leaders should select projects that achieve long-term emissions reductions and help focus our transportation sector on building infrastructure for clean electric vehicles.

   

UMES Summer Transportation Institution Pushes to Stimulate Interest in STEM Career

Middle schoolers participated in the Summer Transportation Institution at UMES during June 19th to July 7th, 2017. This program provides awareness and hopes to stimulate interest towards transportation and STEM-related careers.  Students are able to explore these fields through field trips and hands on activities.

   

3 Reasons to Hire a Hero

As thousands of American employers know, hiring veterans is a smart move. There are more than 7 million veterans in the U.S. labor force, meaning they’re either employed or actively looking for work. If you’re curious about working with veterans, here are three great reasons to hire one:

   

Forget Autonomous Cars; Autonomous Ships are Already Here

The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is proud to announce that Insights Success magazine has named Ellen Voie, its president and CEO, as one of the “30 Most Empowering Women in Business.” Voie founded WIT in 2007 to promote the employment of women in the trucking industry, remove obstacles that might discourage women from considering a career in transportation, and celebrate the successes of association members. WIT has grown dramatically over the past decade and now exceeds 4,500 members.

   

Women In Trucking Association CEO Named One of the “30 Most Inspirational Leaders in Business”

The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is proud to announce that Insights Success magazine has named Ellen Voie, its president and CEO, as one of the “30 Most Empowering Women in Business.” Voie founded WIT in 2007 to promote the employment of women in the trucking industry, remove obstacles that might discourage women from considering a career in transportation, and celebrate the successes of association members. WIT has grown dramatically over the past decade and now exceeds 4,500 members.

Container shipping takes on digital initiatives

“Maersk’s partnership with IBM, announced in March, to develop blockchain solutions for freight is one example of potential mutual benefit. According to one estimate, shippers spend twice as much on shipping processes, including documentation, as they do on actual freight movement.”

 

Transportation Technology Wises Up

Self-driving trucks, intelligent highways and freight-hauling apps are changing the way goods can be transported and delivered. Semi-autonomous vehicle technologies also offer a potential solution to the shortage of truck drivers,  with many drivers having recently retired from the industry. These advanced technologies may actually extend the careers of aging drivers and attract even more candidates to the industry, including women.

12 Stats About Working Women

This Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look at women’s contributions to the U.S. labor force.  Here are some noteworthy statistics we’ve rounded up!

 

Graduate Student Internship in Division of Capital Investment Planning & Development

The NJDOT Bureau of Research has issued this posting on behalf of the division of Capital Investment Planning & Development. The CIPD requires the assistance in the identification, preparation, and submission of project modifications or amendments to the STIP in accordance with the MOU for TIP/STOP changes between the three MPOs, NJ Transit, and NJDOT, fully executed October 2012.

 

Why Apprenticeships Are Taking Off

For the last decade, the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, has tracked the skills gap. It found that employers across the globe are facing the most acute talent shortage since the recession in 2007. Of the more than 42,000 employers surveyed, 40 percent said they are experiencing difficulty filling roles.


Operating Engineers Training Programs

Over the years, IUOE local unions throughout the U. S. and Canada have developed and implemented comprehensive training programs that are widely recognized as the best in a number of industries. Our aim has been and continues to be to provide highly skilled, safe, and productive heavy equipment operators and stationary/facilities engineers to the construction, pipeline, stationary and environmental industries.

National Transportation Training Directors upcoming Conference

Hold the Dates, October 7-11, in Chattanooga TN

Each year NTTD highlights innovative training policies, programs and technologies that serve the unique needs of the transportation community, bringing together DOT staff and trainers, LTAP personnel, and national training resource experts from federal, university and private sector organizations. Members of the transportation training community exchange ideas about training innovations and resources, develop collaborative relationships and networks, and learn from leading experts in the field.

Visit the NTTD page for more information at http://nttdonline.net/nttd-annual-conference !

 

 

Tech Talk Recap: Smart Cities and Transportation with Kenneth Leonard

On February 20, 2018, the fifth event in the Lunchtime Tech Talk series took place and featured speaker Kenneth M. Leonard, Director of the U.S. Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office. Leonard spoke to a full crowd of attendees including NJDOT personnel. Leonard, a recognized leader in the field of ITS, focused his presentation on the USDOT Smart Cities Challenge and the way connected cities and communities could become “smart”.

The Smart Cities Council has deemed a Smart City to be one that uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its livability, workability, and sustainability. Leonard explained that connected infrastructure technology can support a smart community through such things as connected vehicles, sensor-based intelligent infrastructure, smart grids, data management and urban analytics, among others. He shared an example of components of a connected city, citing that “Transportation is critical to making a city work—in commuting to work, education, entertainment, as well as shipping and receiving products”.

Leonard highlighted the Columbus, Ohio demonstration project where a $140 million investment in Smart Columbus will create the Columbus Connected Transportation Network, which will include integrated data exchange, enhanced human services, and electronic vehicle infrastructure.

Leonard suggests that smart communities produce desired outcomes that include safety enhancements and efficiency in services. The Smart Columbus project has measurable outcomes, such as: enhanced safety through reduced truck accidents, increased mobility through minimized travel times, improved employment opportunity by reaching underserved communities, and improved air quality from reduced truck congestion and increased access to EV charging stations.

Columbus was selected as the 2016 winner of the USDOT Smart Cities Challenge competition, which included the participation of 77 cities nationwide. To read about the Smart Cities Challenge, please visit: https://www.transportation.gov/smartcity

 

Resources

View the presentation: Leonard, K. (2018). Smart Cities and Transportation.

 

Transportation Career Spotlight – Patricia Ott

NETWC: What motivated you to get involved in civil engineering in general, and transportation in particular?

Patricia Ott: My father was biggest influence growing up, and my biggest supporter in getting me involved in engineering. Growing up I was a tomboy, and I loved to build things with my father. I always had an aptitude for math and science, and I had a talent for mechanical drawing. Once I arrived at Rutgers University, one of the first courses I took exposed you to all the different types of engineering so that you could pick a path for your next four years. I really took a liking to Civil Engineering; I loved the lab work and working with concrete. I went to the construction side of things because at the time, there really was no distinct transportation field.

NETWC: How did your K-12 background prepare you for college?

PO: Not very well. We had separate tracks in my high school; one for those who wanted to go into college, and another for those who were planning on taking a vocational route. The problem was, I excelled at mathematics, but a lot of the courses I wanted to learn were in a different track. So I did my best to take courses in both tracks, even though it wasn’t smiled upon. I remember when I planned on applying to engineering school, my guidance counselor counseled me against engineering, saying I would find a four year college too difficult and the program too rigorous, and advised me to go to accounting college instead. Thankfully, I disagreed and had the support of my parents to move ahead with engineering.

NETWC: Were there any other female engineers with you in the program? It seems to be a rare major for young girls, especially at the time.

PO: The ladies room was never crowded. There were only four of us. And I chose an even rarer combination of doing a five year double major of Civil Engineering and Psychology.

NETWC: That’s a fascinating combination; why did you choose psychology? Is that something that you feel has helped you as an engineer?

PO: I had a passion for people, and understanding people and how they think from a cognitive standpoint. And I do feel like it helped me immensely in my career. When I was at NJDOT, there were career track that you could be on; you were either going to be an expert engineer, or you were going to be a manager. Thanks to my aptitude in psychology, I was able to supervise people very well and I eventually made director. I think being both an engineer and a manager of people are key abilities to have if you want to advance in your career.

NETWC: Why did you choose to work at NJDOT?

PO: Because they were hiring. The job market at the time was poor, and I remember interviewing thinking this was the best chance I had to get involved with building, design, and materials…things I was very passionate about. It was after being at NJDOT for a few years that one day the New Jersey Institute of Technology announced that they were starting a pilot program for a Masters in Transportation. They approached NJDOT about holding the program with a dozen of us from NJDOT, and that’s where transportation really became more prominent in my career.

NETWC: How did working for NJDOT help you shape your career?

PO: I’d say the most important aspect for working for NJDOT was that it allowed me to become a truly well rounded Engineer. Whether it was design, safety, construction, materials…I even spent a year working with the budget director which helped learn more about finances and allowed me to become a better engineer, and a better director.

NETWC: Would you say you have a career accomplishment that you are proudest of at NJDOT?

PO: I can tell you one of things I’m most proud of; I was voted on by my staff for the department’s diversity award, for having the most diverse staff. It made me feel extremely proud to have my department be recognized for all the different people we had brought in of all different backgrounds. Also, being able to look back now at all the people who I was able to bring in that have gone on to have successful careers at NJDOT themselves. It’s extremely rewarding. And in that vein, I would say the thing I miss the most about NJDOT is the people that I worked with.

NETWC: How does it compare to having your own firm?

PO: Both are wonderful, but going back to my fathers influence, he always told me to try and work for yourself if you can. I got to the point where I was able to retire and start my own business and I took it. It’s great because now I can focus in on the things I really care about. I get to focus on traffic, safety, and saving people’s lives.

NETWC: In regards to the next generation of engineers that you are helping to train, there are concentrated efforts to get more women involved in STEM careers. What kinds of barriers do you think exists to getting more women involved?

PO: Well I think there is still a stigma that exists for young women. I have never considered myself to be a female engineer; just an engineer. There is no gender associated with it. But still, the lack of role models that exist in the field helps contribute to the perception I think leads many young people away from the field.

Part of the difficulty also lies with the teachers themselves. I have many friends who are teachers in the K-12 level. They would not have any idea what to even talk to the students about, or where to begin in discussing STEM careers. You have to start early. In the safety world, we try to reach out to kindergartners to help develop a safety culture.  Similarly, young people need to be reached in that K-12 timeframe if you want to instill a passion for STEM careers. Then they can carry it with them throughout the rest of their school days. The good thing is, there seems to be more opportunities today and more flexibility for students. The potential is out there, we just need to do a better job of inspiring them and educating them as to what a career in engineering actually entails.

There are so many potential avenues in STEM today that I think it limits the number of excuses you can make. People can enter STEM through engineering, planning, computer science…thanks to all the new technologies out there, the number of pathways are numerous.

NETWC: Are these barriers similar to what you faced?

PO: Absolutely. Things have changed for the better, but we still live in a culture that is inherently unequal. We talk a good game, but we need to do more to break down those barriers.

NETWC: What advice do you have for young women today who are interested in starting a career in engineering?

PO: Be fearless. I know many people, at least in my age group, who were fearful of math, and turned off by things they saw as “boys careers”. Life is tough enough without letting people put you into a box, and I think it’s important for young women to live up to their own expectations, and not the expectations that other people, or society in general has for them.

Also, I think it’s important to be goal oriented. I have seen studies that show that many women don’t take STEM majors; that’s one problem. But I’ve also see that many women who took take STEM courses in college ultimately avoid STEM careers. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons for why that is, but we need to do a better job of continually motivating our young girls to see not only the path ahead of them, but where that path could eventually lead them.

When I did the Summer Transportation Institute, it was focused on careers. We did a half day program on safety, and we also did a piece on careers based on the four E’s. Engineering, Enforcement, EMS, and Educations. And I highlighted all the careers within those four E’s so that young people could see all the potential landing spots in transportation ahead of them.

NETWC: Thanks so much for speaking with us today Mrs. Ott, we appreciate you taking the time.